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What No One Told You About Mono

What No One Told You About Mono

You’ve probably heard about mono (infectious mononucleosis). Commonly referred to as “the kissing disease,” many myths surround this group of symptoms that is usually caused by a virus found in saliva. 

This means you may have missed out on learning key facts that could save your health! The team of providers at Urgent Care of Ada, in Ada, Oklahoma, is here to answer your questions about contagious diseases, like mononucleosis, and provide treatment when needed. 

Here’s a closer look at mono and what you need to know about this common viral infection. 

Overview: Infectious mononucleosis 

Infectious mononucleosis, or “mono,” isn’t a disease itself, but a group of symptoms. When they occur together, we call the illness that results “mono.” Though it’s most common in teenagers and young adults, anyone can get mono. 

How mono usually spreads

The most common mono-causing virus is called the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). You typically get mono after coming in contact with the saliva of someone who had EBV recently, including from activities like:

Sometimes people get mono from other viruses, which can spread through contact with blood or through sexual intercourse.

Though attempts are ongoing, there’s currently no vaccine against EBV. This means there’s no medical protection against mono. 

To reduce your risk, be sure to wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with people who have mono, and don’t share drinks, eating utensils, or anything else contaminated with saliva.

Symptoms of mononucleosis

Mono symptoms don’t show up when you get infected. It can take one to two months to develop symptoms before getting diagnosed. Conversely, some people never get symptoms. When they occur, symptoms include:

Some people also develop a skin rash and/or an enlarged spleen or liver.

Diagnosing and treating mononucleosis

Because mono shares many symptoms with other viral infections, it’s often misdiagnosed as the flu or a sore throat/strep. This means it’s important to see a provider, like a team member at Urgent Care of Ada. 

To diagnose mono, your Urgent Care of Ada team member performs a physical exam. We look at your tonsils, check your belly for signs of an enlarged liver or spleen, and other signs of EBV infection. Your provider may also order a blood test to check for EBV, look at your white blood cells and platelets, and check your liver function. 

Most people recover from mononucleosis in two to four weeks by resting and taking in plenty of fluids. It may take several months for your energy levels to return to their pre-mono state. 

You can help yourself recover by taking it slowly and not going too fast when you start to feel better. Listen to your body, and rest when you’re tired. By taking it easy for a little longer, you’ll be back to normal sooner.

Because it’s a viral infection, you don’t take antibiotics. Your provider may recommend taking over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for fever or muscle aches. 

NoteDon’t take aspirin with mono unless directed to do so by your provider. This medicine can cause a serious condition called Reye's syndrome, liver failure, and even death.

What you probably didn’t know about mono

Unfortunately, many people don’t know some important facts about mono and potential complications that can arise. Understanding these EBV facts could help you catch a problem early so that you can get treatment sooner. 

Spleen complications

Sometimes, EBV and mono can cause an enlarged spleen. Avoid doing any vigorous exercise or playing sports for at least a month after having mono to give your spleen time to heal. If you have sudden, sharp pain in your upper left abdomen, call your provider. 

Liver complications

Some people who get mono also get hepatitis (liver inflammation). This may cause your skin and eyes to look yellow (jaundiced). Call your doctor if you have any signs of liver issues.

Autoimmune system complications

New research shows EBV increases the risk of several serious autoimmune conditions for certain people, including:

Research is still ongoing, but scientists think a protein made by EBV binds to genomes linked to these diseases and may influence the development of these conditions in people who have other risk factors. 

Worried about mono? Set up an appointment over the phone or online at Urgent Care of Ada, or walk in at our urgent care clinic for same-day treatment.

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